Is your company tightening its pursestrings? Have you been told to hold off on all "unnecessary purchases" for a couple of quarters? Did your 2009 budget just go through rather drastic cuts? Have layoffs occurred or are they looming?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you're not alone. For any of us who came through the "Dot Bust" of the early 2000's (particularly in Northern California), we may remember these signs well. I remember heading into it (as a not yet 2 year old consulting business) and the phases that it went through. However; I also have worked with many businesses since and have seen the outcome of decisions they made to "save costs" that had long term negative impact.
Here are some things to think about:
1) You can't manage what you don't know. Software costs are one of the line items you're going to be watching closely - make sure you have the tools in place to tell you exactly what is being used and what you own. Then you can continue to provide your business users with the tools they need to do their job but ensure that you're not over-purchasing in this category.
2) Servers and client access licenses - get expert advice. This is consistently the area where I see costly mistakes being made, typically on the basis of relying on the knowledge of someone who doesn't keep current with publisher's product use rights. A recent half day consultation with us saved one of our clients $30,000 in server licensing costs. This is an area where it doesn't cost much to get advice that can save you a bundle!
3) Review your maintenance agreements and renewal contracts - in the past several "lush" years we've seen many clients opting for convenience over cost savings. Now that things are leaner, you might need to re-think some of your past decisions to ensure they are meeting your current goals.
4) Evaluate your reseller. Just like #3 above, are the "value added services" provided by your reseller justifying their markup on your software? This is another area where that client we mentioned in #2 received significant benefit from that consultation. They needed to change resellers and leveraged us to make the change - it resulted in $15,000 in free consulting services from us as a "thank you" from their new reseller...that's paying for them to have us manage their software license situation monthly for the next year!
5) If you're downsizing and having to "do more with less", we can ensure you still have the information you need on a monthly basis to get full value of your software assets...for a fraction of the cost of doing it internally - call or e-mail me and free up some of your staffs limited time.
These are just some suggestions, the important thing to remember is this...in times of financial hardship it is our responsibility to ensure our decisions help our companies (a) survive the downturn, and (b) are positioned to prosper immediately in the upturn.